October 26, 2006

It never ceases to amaze me how much can occur in 20 days. Our greenhouse has been ordered, and shipped, with an estimated delivery date of November 1. Work is proceeding on the base for the structure. The base is being built up and surveyed and compacted by someone with a whole lot more patience than I have.


Our Buckeye chickens have turned into a saga. The poor birds continue to be in quarantine as we try to treat them with antibiotics for a communicable avian illness that they are carrying, but not sick with. It is possible that we will not be able to entirely eliminate it, but it’s worth a try. I made the mistake of not naming them right away, and Ken ended up calling the rooster “Bucky”, which is a big groaner in my opinion…..Bucky the Buckeye, yup, that’s original…..help.


This last weekend we met the delightful family who runs Perkins Peacocks outside of Redding, CA. We brought home 3 white peafowl. I still can’t quite believe that I paid that much for birds, but I’ll get over it. They are absolutely gorgeous. We haven’t spent very much time with them on account of having installed them in their pen at 8pm last Sunday. The shortening days have left us with almost no time in the weekday mornings or evenings to spend with our birds. Hopefully this weekend we can begin the process of subverting them with irresistible treats.


Our ten Delaware chicks are approaching one month old and are starting to get bigger. Sooner or later we will need to get them into a better area since they are rapidly outgrowing their little temporary pen.


The winter garden has had its first seeding be about 90% finished. So far there are over 8 types of heirloom lettuce, cabbage, beets, chard, garlic, Brussels sprouts, several kinds of spinach, snap peas, snow peas, carrots, mache, endive, escarole, raddichio, mustard greens, arugula, several radishes, kohlrabi, kale, fava beans, garbanzo beans, bok choy, and probably about 8 other things I can’t immediately remember. All I can say is, I have spent a very great amount of time stooped over, planting all that. The seeds for most winter crops are TINY and it’s extremely time-consuming to work with them. Some of the seeds have already germinated, but it’s really difficult to keep the soil evenly moist during the days of high winds we’ve had. As usual we have our neighbor to thank for bailing us out; the irrigation has been monitored while we work our “day jobs”. Onion slips will arrive in the supply nursery in a few more weeks.


We were given a mountain of pure black compost  which has already been mostly incorporated into the garden beds for this winter garden. It was offloaded off of a semi truck with a moving floor—a truck in which the floor of the trailer is essentially a conveyor belt. Very nifty to watch!


Two weekends away will be the time we start butchering the turkeys. This is going to be a big production job. The feathers are being sold to artisans, we are borrowing our friend’s whiz-bang turkey plucker that, if I am not mistaken, is a modified washing machine. We will likely do the work alongside our friends from another farm, so as to make one big mess all at once. Besides, all you really need to get this job done is time, sharp knives, hot water, disinfectant, and a whole lot of over-the-counter pain reliever. When the process is over with for the year, we will be evaluating whether or not it was worth it, and if we want to continue promoting meat sales at this time.


So, with all that going on, if you haven’t heard much from us lately at least you know why!! Hope this finds everyone well and a little less busy than we are J

October 6, 2006

Our new Buckeye chickens arrived at the Arbuckle Post Office at 7:20 am today. They are in great shape and will hopefully be the foundation of a flock of these rare poultry for us! Thanks to our friends at ANS farm in Nebraska for all the hard work in getting these birds to us! Read all about Buckeyes on the ALBC website!

October 3, 2006

It took 3 years and a lot of eggs and squash, but this week we took one big step forward….our new greenhouse has been ordered. Every cent we earned from selling any kind of farm product was put in a special savings account, and over time it was determined that the money would be used to finance a greenhouse. So this is a big THANK YOU to everyone who has supported us with your purchases.

After a lot of research and many conversations and phone calls, we are purchasing a Backyard Pro model from Farmtek. It will be 11’8"W x 8’10"H x 24’8"L, with twin-wall polycarbonate. We are getting the exhaust fans, two shade cloths, solar vent openers and heater. We still have mountains of work to do, as well as materials to acquire; the order was only the first part. We will be running water and electricity to the structure, creating a sunken gravel base for stability and drainage, adding in benches and sinks. There will be areas for seed starting and cutting propagation. We spent hours reading, and toured some of the sophisticated greenhouses on the UC Davis campus with the director of the conservatory in order to learn about the ups and downs of different designs and materials. And since this is a kit greenhouse, the odyssey will begin when we actually assemble the structure. The instructions are about 50 pages long. We will need to re-do  the electrical in our shop in order to tie into that box…our humongous project for the winter is set!!

The greenhouse is going to tilt the future of our farm in a new direction. We will have the space and environment to greatly increase the quantity and variety of the heirloom produce we grow, all of which has to be started from seed. We will have products to the market sooner, because we will be able to get weeks ahead of the usual growing season. In a nutshell, we are going to be able to make more plants as never before. And, just maybe, we will use our dining room table for eating at once again! No more tomatoes covering it in February!!